Does Weed Expire? How to Tell When Cannabis Goes Bad

Tina Magrabi
Tina Magrabi - Content Writer

Dec 14 2021 - 5 min read

All cannabis has a shelf life, as it is a food product from plants. Just as a bunch of broccoli or spinach comes with an expiry date, so does fresh weed. Consuming marijuana at optimal freshness ensures that you’re getting the most out of the plant’s therapeutic cannabinoids and other natural compounds. 

The two main factors that determine how long a cannabis or CBD product will last are:

    • What type of product it is (e.g., tincture, flower, edible, etc.).
    • How much plant matter or any other fresh ingredients does the product contains.

Learn how long your cannabis will last with our freshness guidelines and other essential things to know about storing weed. 

Cannabis Freshness Guidelines

Cannabis expiration dates largely depend on the type of product you are consuming. Marijuana can last a long time, months or even years, but be aware of these general expiration date guidelines for each cannabis product you purchase. 

Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuana is an umbrella term that can encompass virtually any cannabis product. The best way to know when your medical marijuana expires is to read the label or ask your pharmacist.  

CBD Tinctures

CBD tinctures have the most extended shelf life of any cannabis product. Tinctures infused with high-proof alcohol can stay fresh for up to ten years if stored appropriately. Oil-based tinctures, which are less common, can last for two years. 

Cannabis Flower

Much of how long cannabis flowers will keep depends on how well cured the flower or bud is and how well it is kept after buying from the local dispensary. If your product is well-dried and cured correctly (i.e., it is relatively dry without too much moisture) and then kept in a mason jar out of direct sunlight and in a cool, dry place, it won’t grow mold or mildew.

Cannabis flowers can last up to 18 months in such conditions, losing potency after around six to nine months of being in the jar. It is generally advisable to use fresh cannabis flower within six months, as most people cannot keep them in optimal conditions without fluctuations in temperature and humidity.

Cannabis; pot; hemp; bud; gram of cannabis; weed; marijuana; growing; dried cannabis flower.
Source

Hash and Wax

The less flower there is in the extract or concentrate, the longer it will last. However, just like cannabis flowers, you must keep hash and wax stored in a cool, dry place with little sunlight to prevent the cannabinoids and terpenes from degrading and mold from forming.

Hashish tends to contain the most plant material, and as such, lasts around the same amount of time as flower (around eighteen months, maybe a little longer). If hashish is not appropriately kept, it can go moldy. As for waxes, budder, and shatter, these concentrates can potentially last up to two years, losing potency after around twelve to eighteen months. 

Cannabis Edibles

Many edibles contain perishable ingredients, such as eggs and milk. Edibles like brownies and cakes are not likely to last longer than two to three days when made at home and stored in an airtight container. Cannabis edibles from dispensaries may contain preservatives that allow them to keep a bit longer when in the packaging but will still come with a use-by-date.

Cannabis-infused candies may last longer than baked goods – between six and nine months – as they do not tend to contain many perishable ingredients. You should keep all edibles in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight in their original packaging.

Rick Simpson Oil

Like tinctures, Rick Simpson Oil is usually made with an alcohol infusion process. This process gives Rick Simpson oil an approximate shelf life of ten years under proper storage conditions. 

Vapes

Vape pens tend to contain vape oil, and the cannabis extract used to make them tends not to have any plant material. Moreover, vape pens are usually well-contained. So, if properly kept, vape pens can last a long time without losing much potency – around two to three years. However, vape pens often do not have a fixed expiry date and could last longer.

Topicals

Cannabis topicals like creams, oils, and gels usually last up to two years when stored in their original container and sealed after each use. Cannabis-infused cosmetics may also last up to two years, though the expiry date will depend on the ingredients in the cosmetics. Soaps are alkaline and will preserve any cannabis they contain quite well, potentially lasting longer than two years. 

How to Tell If Your Cannabis Is Bad

Several easy-to-spot clues will let you know that your cannabis has gone bad. From funky smells to scuzzy mold, here’s how you’ll know if you’ve got a batch of rotten cannabis. 

It Smells Bad

If the product doesn’t pass the smell test, it’s likely seen better days. Check for a smell of rotten eggs or anything that smells unfamiliar. Many cannabis strains have a “skunky” smell familiar to regular users. So, your experience with using cannabis will also help your nose determine if the product is still fresh or past its sell-by date.  

The Texture Changes

Fragile, crumbling cannabis could indicate that the expiration date has passed. Note the texture of your cannabis product when you first purchase it and watch for any changes later on. 

You See Mold

Discolored spots and white fuzz are the telltale signs of mold. Just as you would toss a moldy loaf of bread, dispose of your moldy old weed. 

Cannabis with White Mold
White mold on cannabis. Source

Can Ingesting Expired Marijuana Harm You?

Ingesting any expired food product can lead to nausea and other digestive issues. However, it is unlikely that ingesting expired marijuana will cause serious harm. Still, when in doubt, throw it out. 

Tips for Storing Cannabis

How you store cannabis has a significant impact on how long the product will last, and these criteria are crucial for storing cannabis and maximizing its shelf life. 

Choose the Right Container

Mason jars made of glass with an airtight seal are the best long-term storage vessels for cannabis. Glass retains the flavors and aromas of cannabis as well as the freshness. For short-term storage of a week or less, vacuum-sealed plastic bags or metal containers will work. 

Pay Attention to Humidity

Too much moisture accelerates the degradation of weed products, so store in an area of low humidity. A relative humidity level of about sixty percent is ideal for most cannabis products. 

Keep It in the Dark

Avoid exposure to direct sunlight at all costs. Cannabis products last longer in dark spots like cabinets and cupboards. 

Can I Freeze Marijuana and CBD Products?

Yes, you can freeze marijuana and CBD products if you require a short-term storage solution. But more than a few days in the freezer will degrade your cannabis product and lead to a decrease in potency. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How long can CBD oil be kept once opened?

As long as you store your CBD oil in a cool, dark place, it can stay fresh for up to twenty-four months. 

How long does it take for THC wax to expire?

THC waxes and other concentrates tend to last between three and six months before expiring. 

Do marijuana edibles lose potency over time?

Yes, marijuana edibles do lose potency but not for quite some time (a year or more, depending on the type). As you are likely to consume your marijuana edibles within weeks of purchasing them, it is unlikely that any potency will be lost during this short time.

Explore the world of cannabis products with your medical marijuana card. Leafwell’s physicians are here to help you apply for your MMJ card online today.

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Written by
Tina Magrabi
Tina Magrabi

Tina Magrabi is a writer and editor specializing in holistic health. She has written hundreds of articles for Weedmaps where she spearheaded the Ailments series on cannabis medicine. In addition, she has written extensively for the women's health blog, SafeBirthProject, as well as print publications including Destinations Magazine and Vero's Voice. Tina is a Yale University alumna and certified yoga instructor with a passion for the outdoors.

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